Get all five members of the Brooklyn/Rockaway group Sons Of Jove together for an interview, and just be prepared to strap yourself in for the ride. Being fortunate enough to interview the quintet—all of whom are in their early 20s—one evening at my home in Park Slope, I received a text from guitarist Vincent Sigismondo at around 8 p.m.—an hour later than I’d expected, I might add—which read simply, “We’re outside.”
The text read almost like a warning: “Caution: rock ‘n’ roll lurks outside. Close your windows. Stay indoors.” But peering through the curtains that line my front door, I realized the next wave of ambitious young New York City musicians might just be standing there on the other side, waiting for me to invite them in. Like a gang, the Sons Of Jove stormed through my brownstone like charging elephants; up the steps and through the corridors, until they all were lined up on a couch together, beers in hand, sitting beneath a giant poster of The Beatles, confidently, like heirs apparent to the popular music kingdom.
All five of them twitched and buzzed in a way that would be familiar to anyone who’s ever felt passionate about anything. If you’re an artist, you understand this charge of energy; it’s made up from the eagerness felt inside to create, the desire to share music and, of course, the satisfaction of being asked to talk about it.
Regarding the roots of Sons Of Jove, drummer Zach Mancini and guitarist Robert Albenda were only 12 years-old when they were drawn together by the sounds that are now so firmly an extension of their souls. “Robby asked me one day what kind of music I was into, and, at the time, I was basically into new rock and also hip-hop,” said Zach. “At the same time, I was raised on [radio station] Q104.3—anything you hear on there, all the classic shit. So Robby was like, ‘You know Zeppelin?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I know [how to play] this song.’ And then he was like, ‘You know Hendrix?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I know this song.’ So he just came over one day and we jammed it out—and there we were, fuckin’ 12 years-old, playing Hendrix and Zeppelin.”
Robby and Zach continued to play together all through junior high and high school, playing in multiple different formations after linking up with bassist Larry Roitman. “We played bar mitzvahs, and we played fuckin’ communions, man,” said Robby about the early years.
But as the trio formed a tight bond, Zach’s younger brother, Dylan Mancini, was watching his soon-to-be bandmates from a close distance. “You know, my brother was playing drums, and our dad is a singer and drummer in a band, too,” said Dylan. “So we had this drum set down in our basement for practically my whole life. They used to come and jam out, and then I just started to go down there and I would sing Nirvana songs, Lit songs—whatever, really.” He was only 10 years-old at the time.
AS they grew, the band that would become known as Sons Of Jove began writing their own songs, now having expanded to a five-piece with Sigismondo on guitar. At a certain point, it became apparent that the band didn’t have a name. “So, we had a gig booked,” said Vinny, “and the [booking agent] asked us, ‘What’s your name?’ So then Robby runs back to us and he’s like, ‘We need a name!’”
“We had a week to come up with a name,” continued Albenda, “So I just started looking at books and shit.”
“He was reading The Iliad,” cracked Dylan, and the room went up in laughter, one of the many times throughout the evening that the often very funny Sons Of Jove had me in hysterics.
“Well, tell him what you came to practice with, originally,” said Zach.
“Well, originally, I came with ‘Dreams Of Jove.’ But Vinny said he didn’t like that, so then I said, ‘Well, how about ‘Sons Of Jove?’ And that was it.”
“Well, what I actually said,” corrected Vinny, “was that [Dreams Of Jove] sounds like you want to fuck him.” Again, the room erupted with laughter, laughter that had this veteran reporter feeling somewhat nostalgic for his own youthful days of being wild.
The Sons Of Jove’s music resonates with the same sense of fun that epitomizes their collective personality. Their new EP, Conceptions, recorded in Park Slope and released in April of 2011, boasts of solid rock numbers that are simultaneously primed for crossover appeal to pop radio. Whether it’s the tender balladry of a song like “These Days,” or the uptempo, Caribbean-influenced track “Curry,” Sons Of Jove have the same modern appeal as groups such as Kings of Leon and 311; with big powerful guitar hooks and an anchoring, hard-hitting rhythm section that marry up to introspective lyrics about life and love, all while the Mancini Brothers’ vocal harmonies tip the scale of beauty heavily in the favor of the Sons Of Jove.
I’m always enamored with young people who start bands nowadays. From New York City to California, there are plenty of stories about youthful ambition that sadly amounted to nothing; about bands that took that long journey down the twisted and cruel rock ‘n’ roll-super-highway, only to come up empty handed. If nothing else, there’s plenty of evidence that being a musician surely isn’t the most ideal business model. So the question for me always remains, “Why do it?”
“Well, 50 percent of this is about living the dream of being a rock star,” said Dylan. “I mean, who doesn’t want to be a rock star? So, I think 50 percent of it is the dream, but the other 50 percent is that I love being in a band. I love the fact that I can go and jam with four other guys, one being my brother, and just fucking write good music, and play other people’s music, too. It’s fucking awesome. It’s like a release, kind of. It’s nice to be in a band. And if I’m ever not in band, I’m sure I’ll feel—”
“Like something’s missing.”
Vinny finished Dylan’s sentence for him. And on this night, for the Sons Of Jove, the answer was simple. The music had bound them together; like a family. It was their raison d’etre, and that was more than I needed to know to understand that the Sons Of Jove were ready, and most certainly for real.
Sons Of Jove will be playing Southpaw in Brooklyn, on April 8 at 8 p.m.